Today on the Ethical ELA blog, teacher-librarian-poet Linda Mitchell kicks off a five-day Open Write invitation by using lists for composing poetry (read her beautiful “Wishing Well Price List” poem and other inspiring offerings here).
Now, I am a notorious list-maker, so much so that my husband once asked: “What are you writing now?”
To which I replied, absently, while hunched over a scrap of paper: “A list.”
“ANOTHER list? For what?”
I hesitated to confess, but I did, in a decidedly small voice … “A list of lists I have to make.”
So. If I am going to base a poem on one of my myriad lists, I must choose quickly or I’ll never begin.
The first thing I turned to in my scrawly notebook idea-keeper was a list of rhyming words based on the phrase “learning decay.” I heard a fellow educator use it recently, expressing concern for children returning to school in the fall after having been out for five months (or longer) due to COVID-19. That idea has been sitting dormant … maybe waiting for just this moment, this prompt, as a lens to lend focus. What can I make of this list? What would help prevent “learning decay” for kids? For ANYONE? For me the answer is always twofold: Read. Write. Always.
One last thing: Kids need to know that writing is more than an assignment and generally hateful chore. They can do it anywhere, anytime, about anything. There are no limits, only endless discoveries. A notebook is a gateway for making sense of the world and discovering what you think and feel … a safe haven, a springboard, a sounding board, a lifeline, a reliquary for housing fragile new ideas, precious fragments of self. It can be on paper. On a screen. It can be a recording. A drawing. Any means of capturing thoughts, impressions, expressions. I use multiple mediums, myself. You’re reading one now. To me, moments spent writing are never wasted; growth is inevitable.
Here’s my rather rapid-fire poem based on “learning decay” and the list of rhyming words in my notebook:
No, not today.
Strive to allay.
So invite play:
a word ballet,
a thought bouquet.
True soul portray,
the cost defray –
Recoup the day.